The Champagnes of Frerejean Frères

The Champagne house of Frerejean Frères may not be a familar name, established only in 2005 in Champagne’s Côte des Blancs village of Avize. Though the house cannot boast hundreds of years of history like a Gosset or Ruinart, there is heritage here. The frères in question are Guillaume, Richard and Rodolphe Frerejean-Taittinger. Though their father’s family was from a long line of canon makers who helped arm France during the Napoleonic Wars, their mother is part of the Taittinger family, and the three boys grew up among the vines of Champagne.

The brothers have turned back to Champagne having worked in other sectors, now splitting their time between Paris and Avize. In charge of winemaking is Chef de Cave, Didier Pierson, a highly experience Champagne consultant and winemaker and native of Avize. Pierson has also worked in the UK, planting Meonhill vineyard in Hampshire, and consulting to Hambledon as part of his business.

Frerejean Frères works exclusively with Grand and Premier Cru parcels of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, all from the Côte des Blancs. Vines are old, at least 40 years old, but with some parcels dating back to the 1920s. In the cellar there’s a low sulphur and also low dosage regime, with wines here classed either Extra Brut (maximum 6g/l of sugar) or towards the lower end of the Brut scale.

Long-cellaring is another part of the recipe here; at least six years before disgorgement for all wines, and eight years for vintage wines. That might be part of the reason these wines appealed to me. All showed the light oxidation and maturity of their long cellaring (not sure if there is any barrel fermentation too?), and despite all having a low dosage, a real ripeness and fruit sweetness showing through too. That combination of toastiness and autolytic development, along with the ripeness and clean, clear acidity, makes for a pleasing combination.

The Wines

(2022) A 50/50 blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, aged a minimum of five years before disgorgement. This has a brioche richness and, although Extra Brut with a dosage of less than 3g/l of sugar, it has a sweet-fruited charm on the palate and is fruit-forward, hinting almost at a tropical character on the nose. That little toasty, nutty impression lingers through the finish, but again the glacé lemon precision of the acidity balances. Approachable in style.
(2022) All Chardonnay from Premier Cru vineyards in the Côte des Blancs, this is Brut, though at the lower end of the residual sugar range, aged for a minimum of five years before disgorgement. Around 50% of the blend is reserve wines. It's quite a meaty style, a nutty oxidation adding to a pillow of luxury, apples and lemons too. In the mouth quite powerful, the ageing and reserve wines adding texture and that nuttiness and umami depth again. Fascinating style here.
(2022) My first tasting of the deluxe Cuvée des Hussards from Frerejean Frères, a house created by Guillaume, Richard and Rodolphe Frerejean-Taittinger in 2005. It is 85% Chardonnay from Cramant, Avize, Grauves and Chouilly, and 15% Pinot Noir from Vertus. All vineyards are rated Premier or Grand Cru, with vines more than 40 years old. It is Extra Brut that spent eight years in the cellars. Even with a very low dosage, there is obvious ripeness and a suggestion of lusciousness on the nose. There are characters of its long ageing, with maturing notes of fig and honey, truffle too, but then a cleansing note of citrus and firm pear that balances. In the mouth the fruit sweetness belies the lowly dosage, the palate is nutty and caressed by creamy sweet flavours, but the sheer acid core gives a shimmering lemon brightness, flitting touches of saline and spices adding to the complexity of the long finish. I think this certainly ready to drink now.

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